Now the dust has settled on Dan Evans’ late night loss in the final of the Delray Beach Open, British fans have rightly started to realise that it is time for another exciting journey into the top 100.
When Evans returned from his drugs ban last April, he didn’t have a ranking and was left empty handed by the LTA after it decided not to support Dan’s return to the tour. It was a hotly contested decision, especially given the three-year deal the Edgbaston Classic signed with Maria Sharapova following her ban for a performance enhancer, only for the Russian to pull out each time.
Despite the lack of wildcards, it feels like this was the right move from the LTA: both at the time and now.
There were no debates about whether Evans’ deserved an easier passage into the main draws of UK events, and if he was taking the place of other deserving Brits. Instead, Evans was forced to knuckle down and grind his way through the Challenger tour, albeit courtesy of a qualifying wildcard.
Fast-forward 10 months and Evans is back. While he wasn’t able to take any of his three match points on Sunday, to be ranked just outside the top 100 in the run-up to Wimbledon is the latest unexpected twist in his career that even his biggest fans wouldn’t have anticipated.
As he faces the prospect of the Indian Wells 125K Challenger, Evans has nothing to defend between now and April, and so has a chance to reach new career heights. Evans is likely to gain direct entry into Roland Garros and Wimbledon, and with it a new-found respect from journalists, players and fans.
His decisions have been questioned and his punishment served. Now is the time for the tennis world to get behind Dan and will him back into the world’s elite.
His tennis can be breathtaking – just ask Roger Federer – and his personality off the court certainly keeps journalists on their toes. He ruffles feathers, and has continued his controversial streak this year when discussing doubles. But he is a player British tennis fans should be proud to follow and not ashamed to support.
A first ATP title should be a goal this year, and the British number one spot is in touching distance. He is also going to be integral if Britain is going to challenge at the season-ending Davis Cup and fans must support Leon Smith if Evans is selected.
Just what happens next, nobody knows. But whatever course Dan’s career takes next, it’s sure to be fascinating to follow.